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Tony Grist

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Stranger On The Shore [Nov. 3rd, 2014|12:20 pm]
Tony Grist
Serious jazzers tend to be sniffy about Acker Bilk, but all it takes to achieve immortality is to write one great tune.

I watched the TV serial that gave the tune its name. It was about a French au pair. I was just a kid and I didn't really get what was going on but I remember it as one of the first adult fictions to take me by the throat. The girl was so lonely, poor thing.  I can picture the opening and closing credits:  a single figure wandering along a shingly beach- in black and white of course- with Acker Bilk's clarinet noodling away...

[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2014-11-03 01:19 pm (UTC)
I remember that serial too. Very poignant opening and closing credits.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-11-03 01:43 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it still exists in the BBC archives.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-11-03 01:50 pm (UTC)
I don't believe you're on FB, otherwise I'd share this story there. Martin Taylor -- one of my favorite jazz guitarists, toured with Stefan Grappelli for years, etc. -- posted it.

Sad to hear the news about Acker Bilk. My father and Acker were good friends, so I knew him since I was a kid. Here's a story about Acker.....

In 1975 Acker asked me to join his band but I declined the offer as I couldn't face the idea of having to play the banjo, but we often met at jazz festivals and events and he never held my Banjophobia against me.

A number of years ago we were both at the BBC Jazz Awards in London receiving awards. Acker was wearing a nice jacket that I liked and at the end of the evening (when Acker was feeling very happy and generous after drinking much champagne) he gave me the jacket as a present.

A few years later I got a message from Acker via Nick Payn saying Acker was a bit drunk on that awards night, he must have been feeling overly generous due to the champers, and he would like his jacket back please.

I sent Acker a message back telling him I didn't have it anymore and told him the story.

I was wearing the jacket one day at my house in France and my neighbour took a liking to it. When I told my neighbour the story behind the jacket he got really excited because he was an amateur clarinet player and a huge Acker Bilk fan... so, I gave my French neighbour Acker's jacket.

My neighbour died the following year and his last wish was to be buried in Acker's jacket.

I told Acker I knew where the jacket was and sent him a map of Plumaudan Cemetery with an X marking the spot where my neighbour was buried.

Acker was a unique musician and a wonderful guy. We'll all miss him.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-11-03 02:04 pm (UTC)
That's a great story.

(You're right, I'm not on FB)
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-11-03 03:52 pm (UTC)
If you're not familiar with Martin Taylor, you might want to rummage on YouTube. Here's one to get you started:

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-11-03 04:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'll check him out.
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